World Haptics Conference and Student Innovation Challenge Recap!


A little over a month ago 9 student teams from around the globe gathered at the World Haptics Conference in Evanston, Illinois and showed off their apps they made with the TPad Phone. These 9 teams (selected from a total pool of 25 applications) were each sent a TPad Phone a few months before the conference. They spent those months refining, testing, and implementing their visions for solving a real world problem using variable-friction surface haptics.

It was a whirlwind of a week for all the teams, and another exciting time for the TPad Phone, as it was the first time the phone was shown off to this large of a crowd. Battling through long days and weary voices, each team was able to post up for the majority of the 4 day conference right in the main hallway of the conference venue. They explained their app ideas and showed off their hardware to a team of 3 judges, all in an effort to win cash prizes and Mircosoft Surface Pro 3 tablets. They also attempted to woo over the conference goers in order to take home the People’s Choice award.

Check out some pictures of the event below, as well as a list of all of the winners! Additionally, each team posted a video of their idea on YouTube, which is linked to below. More information about the competition can also be found by checking out the conference website

2015-06-23 12.43.12 2015-06-23_10-15-18-DSC_0277 2015-06-23 13.01.52 2015-06-23 12.34.56

The Winning Teams Were:

People’s Choice ($500): Remote Texture Exploration – This app allows users to both record and display textures on their phone. Using a special tool to slide across a texture and capturing audio, acceleration, and image data, a texture model is created which can then be displayed on the TPad Phone or sent electronically. The tool and application were created by Matti Strese, Clemens Schuwerk, and Dmytro Bobkov of the Technical University of Munich.

3rd Place Overall (4 Surface Pro 3 Tablets): Invisible Password – An app that allows eyes-free unlocking of your smartphone. Rather than tapping out numbers, users slide their finger randomly across the blank screen and count tactile lines up to the digit they want to enter. Invisible Password was created by Gabriel Figueiredo, Matheus Tura, Bruno Cattelan, Wagner Rampon of Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.

2nd Place Overall ($1000 & 4 Surface Pro 3 Tablets): HelloHapticWorld: A Haptic Educational Robot Kit for Children – As the name implies, this app allows gesture-based teleoperation of small driving robots while providing haptic feedback that indicates the robot’s surroundings such as road slope or obstacles ahead. HelloHapticWorld was created by Dennis Babu, Daniel Gongora, Seonghwan Kim, and Shunya Sakata of Tohoku University.

And finally,

1st Place Overall ($1500 & 4 Surface Pro 3 Tablets): RoughSketch – A drawing app that presents a distinct feeling for each drawing tool. For example, the paintbrush starts slippery, but gains texture as paint is removed from the brush. The pen tool has a constant rolling on paper feeling, while the eraser has the distinct sensation of rubbery bits wearing away as you erase. RoughSketch was created by Brenna Li, Gordon Minaker, Paul Bucci, and Oliver Schneider from the University of British Columbia.

Everything at the conference went off without a hitch, thanks to generous support from Microsoft Research, and technical support from the TPad Tablet team, both on-site and over on our forum.

A special shout out to Joe, judge Sile O’Modhrain, and the tactile blind photography team from Italy who also made it on the ABC Chicago local news broadcast! Way to represent the TPad Phone! Be sure to check out the story and video in the link below:

Congratulations again to all of the participating teams! Each team got to keep their TPad Phone as part of the competition, and we expect great thing to come!


Hapticathon = Haptic Hackathon

On Saturday, 40 people participated in the first ever (as far as I’m aware) hackathon completely devoted to surface haptics in Poznan, Poland. The 8 teams went from learning what surface haptics is to completing a working application in just 24 hours. This is made even more remarkable by the fact that they had to share a single TPad Phone between the entire event!

The teams have all made their source code available at Thanks to Slawa Madelska for driving this great event. Read more about the Hapticathon here on her blog.


The winning team, Touch Guide, created an application that uses haptic maps to help visually impaired people navigate within buildings.  They won a trip to World Haptics 2015.


All images courtesy White Ducky.

Join the World Haptics 2015 Student Challenge!

We’re excited to be able to feature the TPad Phone in the first ever Student Innovation Challenge at the World Haptics Conference. You can win awesome prizes like a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (and cash) for creating a real-world application on the TPad Phone. Check out the video below for a brief overview. Full details are here at the WHC’15 website. You must currently be an undergraduate or graduate student to apply. We hope to see you at the conference. Good luck!

Introducing the TPad Phone


The TPad Nexus

I’ve gotten a few requests from people asking for info on our second generation TPad Tablet device, the TPad Nexus. We built this device for our own research use, and therefore didn’t pay as much attention to making sure that components were easy to solder, that the code was backwards compatible, or that the parts were easy to find. However, it is a better device, and we’ve built up a code base for it now, so if you can deal with those issues, you’re better off. This is the device that we demonstrated at UIST ‘13, Open Hardware Summit ‘13, CHI ‘14, and Haptics Symposium ‘14. It was also used in these papers- [CHI, UIST, ASSETS] as well as a few others that aren’t published yet. It looks the same as the TPad Fire from the outside, but the insides are better. A few of the advantages compared to the TPad Fire are listed below:-

  • Finger position interpolation
  • Faster TPad communication- 1 kHz via open accessory protocol
  • Long battery life (longer than the tablet itself)
  • Option to run from wall power
  • Haptic canvas, Remote touch, and Haptic messenger applications [As published in CHI paper video]


A few things to get you started-

Good Luck!


What is a TPad Tablet?

Introduction to the TPad Tablet